Dearest Missionaries in Nagoya,
On the last page of the July 2012 Liahona is an article entitled “Unspotted from the World” by Julie Thompson. She wrote of a personal experience in the Bountiful Utah Temple. I encourage you to read her article with the thought that our homes where we live (your apartment) are next to the temple as a sacred place and where we can enjoy the Spirit of Lord. Often we think of cleaning our apartments as menial jobs that we must do as a matter of duty.
One day in the temple before starting to clean the temple, she tells about her meeting in a small chapel for a devotional. “The custodian who conducted the devotional said something that will forever change the way I look at temple cleaning assignments. After welcoming us, he proceeded to explain that we were not there to clean things that didn’t need cleaning but to keep the Lord’s house from ever becoming dirty. As stewards of one of the most sacred places on earth, we had a responsibility to keep it spotless.”
His message penetrated my heart, and I proceeded to my assigned area with a new enthusiasm to protect the Lord’s house. I spent time with a soft-bristled paintbrush, dusting the tiny grooves in door frames, baseboards, and the legs of tables and chairs. Had I been given this assignment on an earlier visit, I might have thought it ridiculous and carelessly brushed over the areas in an effort to appear busy. But this time, I made sure the bristles reached into the tiniest of crevices.
“I first realized that I never paid attention to such minute details in my own home but cleaned those areas that others would see first, neglecting those known only to members of my family and me. I next realized that there were times when I had lived the gospel in a similar fashion—living those principles and fulfilling those assignments that were most obvious to those around me while ignoring things that seemed known only to my immediate family or me. I attended church, held callings, fulfilled assignments, went visiting teaching—all in full view of members of our ward—but neglected to attend the temple regularly, have personal and family scripture study and prayer, and hold family home evening. I taught lessons and spoke in church but sometimes lacked true charity in my heart when it came to interactions with others. That night in the temple, I studied the paintbrush in my hand and asked myself, “What are the little crevices in my life that need more attention?” I resolved that rather than plan to repeatedly clean the areas of my life that needed attention, I would try harder never to let them become dirty.
I remember my temple-cleaning lesson each time we are reminded to keep ourselves “unspotted from the world” ().
May we take a fresh look at our apartments. May we clean and live in a way that shows our appreciation to the Lord for providing a place to lay down and rest our heads after a day of laboring in the “vineyard”, a place to be nourished, a place to seek the Spirit and to prepare for our missionary service.
In addition to being clean, please consider your stewardship over the resources of the earth and the community in which we live. In times of extreme weather, hot or cold, how efficiently we use resources like electricity and gas, will make a difference to others. At this time, remember to turn your air conditioning off when you are not in the apartment. If you close the drapes and windows, it will reduce the amount of radiant heat that enters your apartment. An important way to keep your air conditioning functioning efficiently is to periodically clean the filters in the air conditioning unit and the ceiling fans.
Please consider not only cleaning the things that obviously need cleaning but to strive to keep the Lord’s house (your apartment) from ever becoming dirty. As stewards of a sacred place on earth, we had a responsibility to keep it spotless.” I promise you greater peace and the presence of the Spirit of the Lord as you wisely fulfill your stewardship.